Vegetarian Dim Sum at Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant (SGV)
Every once in a while people here ask for vegetarian dim sum, and the common retort is "well, no can do, Kimosabe, because y'know, those darn Chinese folks always use pork stock in everything, yada yada yada ..."
Well, now there's a respite for those wanting vegetarian dim sum.
Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant in San Gabriel on Las Tunas Dr. -- a vegetarian restaurant by trade that's in the ilk of Happy Family -- is now offering a full vegetarian dim sum menu. And, get this, it's offered all day. Yes, all day!
So now Fine Garden has satiated 2 of the most commonly asked requests of dim sum on these boards: (1) vegetarian dim sum and (2) dim sum at dinner.
What's the world coming to? Kosher restaurants offering bacon milkshakes with beef jerky swizzle sticks??
Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant
Is this like the "vegan charcuterie" I saw touted by a highly-regarded restaurant in Berkeley? (I refused to eat there. I've got my standards.) I suppose it falls into the category of - there's something for everyone. (What a wonderful world!) Good to know that the next time a vegetarian friend asks to accompany me to dim sum I can send them somewhere - though probably without me along for the ride.
I'd been driving by the sign for a few weeks, and after this post, decided to check it out.
Overall, not too bad. Supposedly they make all the items in-house. I think they're trying to keep some customers coming in... several of their waitstaff moved over to the new vegetarian place that opened on Baldwin and Las Tunas, and between that place and the one in Da Hua Plaza, Fine Garden is probably no longer near the top of the heap as far as Buddhist vegetarian places.
Sadly, no chang fun, but they do have some "Chaozhou 粉果" (fen guo) (kind of like xiajiao / hargow), with various fillings, "pork" shumai (didn't try, but my wife did), radish cakes (a little bland, and the sauce was gross). Lotus buns, pretty good. The osmanthus jello thing is, I think, a bit better elsewhere, and had a funky smell from the fridge. In this sense, trying to do it 7 days all day is a bit ambitious. For those of you who prefer your vegetarian dim sum at a less traditional time, there is a 10% discount between 3 PM and 5 PM, though.
I have to say, though, even given the relatively slim veggie pickings at King Hua, the veggie stuff I was able to eat there the next morning was way better than anything I had at Fine Garden. But I am really happy that there's a pure vegetarian dim sum option here in LA (there is one in Manhattan Chinatown, but as far as I know, there's never been one here).
King Hua Restaurant
2000 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801
So is this a recent trend? I'm surprised this wasn't more readily available in the past.
SGV's Focus Plaza's sister mall Milpitas Square in Northern California opened up in 1996 and we had our first buddhist Taiwanese vegetarian place "Lu Lai Garden" (I'm sure Chandavkl would remember this place at least by name). They were the only place around that offered a small variety of Cantonese vegetarian (wait, make that buddhist vegan) dim sum. Yep, wheat gluten/tofu cut into shrimp sizes with painted red stripes for effect, vegetarian ha gow. Yes there was bamboo shoots in it, but the whole thing was dry. Healthy...but difficult to swallow.
I'm still inclined to believe these things were invented just to help meat and fat eaters who are forced to go on a vegan or vegetarian diet, to help ease the transition.
I think there would definitely be a market for something like King Join 京兆尹 in Taipei for SGV, high end Qing dynasty style small plate vegetarian, but w/o the crazy price tags. Then again this niche isn't as mainstream and popular as dim sum.
re: K K
No disrespect towards those of any size....
my definition of fat eaters = the eaters of fat = consumption and enjoyment of fatty foods, poly and unpoly, i.e. the "toro" of protein. Food loving people need some chin dribbling greasy goodness sometimes too, whether it be that extra fat in a dim sumpling to give it that extra old school ooomph. Now if this can be encapsulated and made into vegan form...